Most evangelical Christians understand that Jesus is God, but too few have an appreciation for Christ’s humanity. The Bible teaches that Jesus is true God and true man, united in one person. Christ’s humanity didn’t have a divine glow about it. Rather, Christ’s human nature was truly and only human, with a true body and reasonable soul, yet without sin. The Bible teaches in Philippians 2:6 that Jesus “was in the form [nature] of God.” But verse 7 says, that Jesus also took “the form [nature] of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Christ is true God and true man.
The Second London Baptist Confession 8.2 says, “The Son of God, the second person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Father’s glory, of one substance and equal with Him who made the world, who upholds and governs all things He has made, did, when the fullness of time was complete, take upon Him man’s nature, with all the essential properties and common infirmities of it, yet without sin.”
But why was it necessary for Christ to assume a human nature? I’d like to suggest six reasons.
1. To fulfill all righteousness. Christ had to be human in order to be tempted in every respect, and to successfully fulfill His probation, resist temptation, and obey the Father in all the points in which Adam failed. Jesus had to be human to fulfill the positive requirements of God’s justice in order to earn eternal life for us. Romans 5:19 says, “By the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.”
2. To die as our substitute. The Bible says that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). So, the only way you and I can be forgiven of our sins, is if Jesus dies in our place. But God cannot die. He is immortal (1 Tim 1:17)! That’s why Jesus had to take on a human nature. He had to be human to die in the place of poor sinners so that we do not have to die. Scripture says, “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh” (1 Pet 3:18).
3. To represent us before God. Christ must have a human nature to be our mediator. We need a human being who can truly represent us in the courts of heaven. 1 Timothy 2:5 explains that only Jesus, who is truly human, could possibly fulfill this office. “There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ.”
4. To sympathize with our weaknesses. Many Christians think that Jesus didn’t have weaknesses because He was God. It’s true that Jesus did not have a sinful nature. But Christ had all the weaknesses and struggles common to human nature. He felt the struggles of human emotions, of human exhaustion, and of intellectual limitations. He felt the power of temptation, though He did not sin. Hebrews 4:13 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses.” This is why we can go to Jesus with our weaknesses and know that He understands us. He knows how to pray for us and how to encourage us by His Word and Spirit.
5. To be our example of obedience. Sometimes Christians think that because Jesus was God, He cheated when it comes to obedience. I’ve heard Christians say, “Of course Jesus obeyed the Father, He was God!” But Jesus had to learn obedience (Heb 5:8). He had to trust the Word of God and rely on the Holy Spirit. At times, obedience was difficult for Christ, but He obeyed through faith. This shows us that obedience is not humanly impossible. He is a true example of what perfect obedience looks like. That means the only thing keeping us from obeying God is our own sinful stubbornness. If we wanted to obey the Lord, we could.
6. To be approachable. Finally, the Lord Jesus is the only way we can approach God. 1 Timothy 6:16 says that God “dwells in unapproachable light.” But we can approach Jesus. He pays for our sins. He mediates for us. He fulfills all righteousness. This is why we can approach Him. And the New Testament shows us that even children were attracted to Christ and came to Him freely. He is not a stern authoritarian figure. You can come to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins, and He will give you His righteousness and eternal life.
Jesus calls you to Himself, saying, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle, and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”